The mixed doubles final is normally scheduled for Thursday of the second week of the tournament, and indeed all the required players were present. However, Greg Lim was involved in a lengthy men’s singles match against Graeme Pearson which he eventually won 7-6 [8-6] 3-6 6-3. However, by the time that had finished there were fewer than 30 minutes of daylight left, which ruled out completion of the mixed doubles final that evening. It was decided to postpone the final until Wednesday 9th August – the next date all players could make..
Those who can remember Wednesday 9th August will note that the heavens opened for most of the day, and that the rain was not just drizzle, but downpour for most of that time. Fortunately the weather forecast identified this some time in advance, and, wisely, the final was moved back a week to Wednesday 16 August. Lasagna and pizza were promised to draw in the spectators. The weather this time was fine.
The mixed doubles final was between Greg Lim & Marjan Denis, the second seeds, and Tim Simpson & Ana, the third seeds who beat the champions and top seeds Lesley South & James McKenzie on their way to the final. Barbara Thomas was the umpire. The match itself was a bit of a nervy affair, and victory seemed most likely to go to the side who made the fewer mistakes, rather than being decided by outright winners. Even the ever-consistent Greg was affected, on a couple of occasions . Tim’s serve is of the “go-for-it” type, likely to beat Marjan and end up embedded half way up the back fence on the occasions when it went in, but it didn’t always.
In the first set Tim was broken in the second game, but he and Ana immediately broke Marjan back. Then Marjan was broken again at 3 all followed by Greg a couple of games later to give Tim and Ana the first set 6-3. In the second set Greg and Marjan played more consistently and brought sufficient winners and errors from the opponents to take the set 6-1, paving the way for the champions tie break (first to 10 points).
At first Greg and Marjan appeared to have a slight edge in the tie break, but Tim and Ana held their nerve to get even, then zoomed into an 8-5 lead with the help of a couple of errors from the opposition. At this point Sultan Gangji was giving odds of 4:1 on a victory by Tim and Ana, who immediately managed to lose the next 3 points to bring the champions tie break score to 8 all. Sultan’s view then was that Greg and Marjan would take it and confidently predicted that the next point would be a match point. If you think about it, 9-8 in a champions tie break always is match point. With the curse of the commentator upon them Marjan and Greg lost the last two points to give Tim and Ana victory by 6-3 1-6 [10-8].
Congratulations to both Tim and Ana, for both of whom it is their first West Heath title. Greg has the well deserved distinction of getting to three finals, unfortunately with nothing to show for it (and is now hoping his friends will buy him drinks to console him). Marjan has also made 3 finals, winning the ladies’ doubles with Elena Valarche. Ana is a relative newcomer and acquitted herself well and we hope will stick around next season to defend her title.
Marjan made the lasagna, Greg provided pizza, and Barbara Thomas made summer pudding, which was enjoyed by the two dozen spectators and competitors. All in all a very enjoyable evening watching an interesting match which had the spectators on the edge of their seats. And now the tournament really is over. Enjoy the rest of the season!